The S-Curve Indicator: Week of January 14, 2013

This week’s indicator is $40 billion, which is the estimated cost for New York utility ConEd to bury all of its power lines. To recover the cost of this investment, rates for ConEd customers would need to triple for at least a decade.

Hurricane Sandy brought a renewed focus on tactics, such as burying power lines, for creating a more resilient grid. The goal of resiliency, however, is smacking up against the costly reality of major capital upgrades. As utility commissions and state legislatures debate the best financing methods, interest is growing in less costly, emerging technologies. It remains to be seen if this interest will translate into action for technologies like blackstart-enabled distributed generation and community battery storage. There are many regulatory, technological, and behavioral challenges to move from small demonstration pilots to grid-scale deployments for these technologies, but we can expect to see significant activity here over the coming months.

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability.